Monday, July 30, 2007

Chavez and George Bush strange similarities

Chavez is trying to make a career out of accusing George Bush of everything that is evil in the world, including everything in Venezuela where all the failures of chavismo are blamed on one or another CIA conspiracy.

However Chavez looks much more like Bush than some of his followers would care to admit. For example the unconditional support to underlings that messed it up big time. The way that George Bush goes to bat for some of his White House employees is becoming quite spectacular and borders the ridicule. Recently, look for example how Gonzalez, the Attorney General, is defended even at increasing political costs, when removing him and getting a new attorney would simplify Bush's life greatly as he is needed for more pressing matters that are harassing his administration.

This past Sunday Chavez came to bat to defend Ramirez, his oil minister, his PDVSA president. PDVSA is sinking. Oil production has ceased to increase and has started going down. Bad decisions since 2003 indicate that oil production is very, very far from being able to increase again, and probably will lose an extra 20% production capacity within a year or two. But if these crucial economic decisions were not enough to remove from office any minister who took such decisions, amen of a president, the political decisions of Ramirez are even worse. From his outright political campaign involvement in 2006 in violation of all elemental electoral rules, for which he got barely a slap on the wrist, to his open, deliberate, constant support for the discriminatory apartheid society making Tascon list, Ramirez has gutted PDVSA from any responsible personnel that could help the company regain some credibility. Instead Ramirez is presiding over the creation of a huge unproductive bureaucracy where people are more interested in watching what is on the screen saver of their coworker (Chavez pictures are apparently mandatory) than balance sheets and accounting of management decisions. That is, one of the most sophisticated industries of the world will be run by folks chosen strictly on their political credentials. Nobody cares anymore whether they can manage an oil rig.

And I am not even touching the direct financial corruption that is linked with such style of management.

In any normal country, any democratic country, not only Ramirez would have been fired but he would be probably under judicial investigation, indicted and contemplating jail anytime soon. But In Venezuela, Chavez yesterday defies common sense, political or human, by sticking his neck for Ramirez and taunting us with a threat of keeping him for years to come. Of course he will, Ramirez forks over Chavez any dollar that he still manages to collect from oil sales, even if he is gutting the response ability and maintenance habits of PDVSA. And as any good accomplice, Ramirez is willing to shield his boss from any blame.

However there is a difference between Bush and Chavez: by January 2009 Bush and his accomplices will be out of office whereas Ramirez and Chavez might be there for years, stealing the country's future, if anything by their sheer incompetence. And that is quite a difference, whether you like Bush or not.

-The end-

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